LIZA UNGER: I HEARD VERY EDGY MALE VOICE AND STARTED CRAZY LOVE YOU
The New York Times Bestselling author Liza Unger published her latest novel Crazy Love You in February. “Hard to stop reading”, “Fast-paced psychological thriller” and “Mystical and mesmerizing,” are just few of the positive opinions about the book.
With 13 titles behind her our next guest is well established name in the thriller genre. We are honored to have her in the following Land of Books interview.
– What is your book Crazy Love You about?
– I do a notoriously bad job telling people what my book is about. The publisher on the other hand does a pretty good one:
Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him “loser” and “fatboy”… and from his family’s deadly secrets.
Now that they’ve both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss… Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex—Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he’s met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn’t like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen…
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I don’t know if I decide to write my stories or if they decide to be written. I can almost always pinpoint the exact moment when a novel began. The germ could come from almost anywhere – a news story, a line of poetry, or even in one case, a piece of junk mail. That little spark usually leads me to a slew of research. And then I might start hearing a voice, or seeing a scene over and over. And then I start writing.
With CRAZY LOVE YOU, however, I can’t pinpoint that moment, that initial germ. I just heard this very edgy male voice in my head and I started following Ian’s story.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– For me, writing is pure joy. There is nothing I have ever wanted to do and when I’m in the zone, I am my truest self. There is certainly an ebb and flow. The pages don’t fly every day. But it never feels like a chore or a challenge. My biggest challenges come after the book is done. I am in introvert, so touring – though a big part of me loves it – is very draining. Once the book is out there, the writer has no more control. You just have to hope it is well received by the world, and get back to work on the next one.
– Tell us something more about your main characters Ian and Priss? Are they close to someone from your real life?
– When we first get to know Ian, he is in a place of struggle. He’s wrestling with his art and with his addictions. And he’s just met a woman that makes him want to be a better man. I see him as someone in an extended adolescence; he’s having a hard time moving on from his traumatic past and growing up. Priss, who at one point was a positive force in his life, someone who made him stronger, someone who stood up for him when he was weak, had become someone who connects him to his basest self. Priss is struggling with conflicts of her own, but we don’t see that until later.
Nothing in fiction is autobiographical and, of course, everything is. None of my characters are ever ripped from my life, but each is an amalgamation of my thoughts, ideas, observations, and imagination. And yet, in some very complicated way, each character seems to exist independently from me. I might find the inspiration for a story or a character from life, but once they’re on the page, they become someone else altogether.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It generally takes me about a year to finish a first draft. Then it takes another year of editing and packaging before it hits the bookshelves, during which I’m also writing the first draft of the next book. So, from idea to printed book is about a two years.
– What was your first reaction when you saw your name in New York Times bestselling list?
– That’s definitely a big moment, a dream come true. I’ve never wanted to do anything with my life but write. So a bigger moment was seeing my name in print for the first time on a newspaper article I wrote. When I sold my first novel, I finally believed I could do what I had set out to do. And holding my first printed book in my hand was one of the biggest moments of my life professionally. In a lot of ways, those milestones meant more than any bestseller list or great review. Because the byline, the contract, the printed book were the result of my faith and hard work (and a little luck!). The bestseller list was a result of great job done by my publisher.
I am not motivated as a writer by external success. What gets me up every morning and back at my keyboard is the idea that I can be a better writer today than I was yesterday. That’s my goal, to get better with each book. Everything else is icing on the cake.
– In the Blood is one of your most successful books. Your fans described the novel as your best one. What was the special spice that made the story so tense?
– It’s so hard to say what makes each book special. Every book I have written represents the pinnacle of my ability at the time. Each one has an important meaning to me, and is deeply connected to whatever questions I was asking about myself, and the world, at the time. When I first started writing IN THE BLOOD, all I had was Lana Granger’s voice in my head. And I only knew two things about her: first, that she was a liar; second, that she was so wrapped up in her lies that they were like a cocoon around her. That she would begin the novel as one thing and end it as something else all together. She was an unreliable narrator, so the ride wither her was strange and unpredictable – for me, as much as for the reader. If it’s my most successful book, I don’t know why.
– Who are you?
– I am a mother and a wife before I am anything else, in this stage of my life. My family comes first in all things. I am a writer, an observer, a traveler and an explorer. I have dark thoughts and curiosities, and these things inform my work. Essentially I am a joyful person who loves her life, is comfortable anywhere in the world, but is happiest at home.
– What are your writing habits?
– My golden creative hours are from 5 AM to noon. But because I have a young daughter, these hours are not always available to me. When I was younger, I wrote in the mornings, in the evenings, on the subway in NYC, in cars, on planes – wherever I found the time while working my full-time job. The result is that I can write anywhere, anytime. When my daughter was smaller, I wrote when she slept. Now that she’s in school, I consider her school week, my writing week. When she’s not in school, I get up as early as possible and or stay up late to get my pages done.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– I am very grateful to be making a living doing what I love. That’s a gift. That said, more sales are never a bad thing!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I think a lot of writers are laboring under the delusion that self-promotion can have a big impact on their sales, in other words create demand. However, there’s a lot you can do these days to create exposure. For example, I’m on Facebook and Twitter; which is where I stay connected to my readers. I have a newsletter. During publication time, I travel to bookstores, libraries, festivals and events, and anything my publisher asks of me.
But ultimately, my main focus is the work. Because writing the best book I can write, getting better every day, digging deeper, creating richer plots, more alive characters, that’s the most important thing I can do as a writer. That’s what will keep readers wanting my work. Readers come to the work because you’ve written a good book, not because you promoted yourself well in social media.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– The next novel will release in spring 2016. I’m not ready to talk about it yet. But stay tuned on all those social media networks, or sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be the first to know all about it.
– What is the secret in psychological suspense books to keep the readers turning page after page?
– Character is king. And plot flows from character. You can construct the most twisting, suspenseful plot imaginable, but if readers don’t care about your characters, the book will fall flat. I am deeply involved with all of my characters, following character voice through my narratives. I write without an outline, never know day to day who is going to show up or what they are going to do. I write for the same reason that I read, because I want to know what is going to happen. I hope my readers are just as passionate about figuring it all out as I am!
Take a look at her Books
In the Blood: A Novel
Crazy Love You: A Novel
Black Out: A Novel
Heartbroken: A Novel
Die For You
Sliver of Truth
Fragile: A Novel (Jones Cooper Book 1)
Angel Fire (Lydia Strong Book 1)
The Darkness Gathers: A Novel (Lydia Strong Book 2)
Twice: A Novel (Lydia Strong Book 3)
Smoke: A Novel (Lydia Strong Book 4)